Subway’s a.m. steal, Lola’s crawfish boil and a Persian jewel

Anyone serious about home cooking should check out Elise Bauer’s website, The 42-year old consultant for Silicon Valley launched her site several years back and today is one of the biggest success stories on the Internet. Recipes for moqueca (a fish stew from Brazil), classic rack of lamb and hundreds of other dishes in every category are a boon to any home cook.

I never thought I’d be writing about the Subway chain, but here it is … In an attempt to compete in the breakfast market, the chain is now doing breakfast sandwiches. This would normally not be notable, but for only $2.50 you get a Western omelet egg melt on an English muffin, plus a 16-ounce cup of Seattle’s Best Coffee. It’s a deal that is hard to beat.

Lola’s, in the Holsum Lofts (241 W. Charleston Blvd., 227-5652) is my favorite local restaurant for the Cajun and Creole cooking of Louisiana. Owner Lola Pokorny does mean gumbo, wonderful catfish, terrific charbroiled Gulf oysters and peerless bread pudding. But it is the Friday crawfish boil that has gotten my attention. She cooks these crimson-colored crustaceans in onions, garlic and lots of Zatarain’s seasonings. They’re spicy but not hot, unless you add some of the Tabasco sauce that sits reverently on each table.

Eating a crawfish requires both courage and skill. If you don’t know how to take the shells off, someone there will show you. Make sure to ask how to eat the crawfish butter, a real delicacy, and remember not to eat the lungs. You pay by the pound, and get a boiled potato and an ear of corn along with a bucket for shells. The only problem is that the paper napkins at Lola’s just don’t cut it.

Sometimes you find something delicious and unusual when you least expect it. I was driving along Sunset Road just south of the airport when I saw a sign that said “Kabob.” That’s how I discovered The Flame (6540 Escondido St., 868-9096), which makes the best Persian-style pita bread in the city. This is taftoon bread in Farsi—flat, hot and crusty when it is pulled out of the cylindrical clay oven used here, similar to an Indian tandoor. It’s best to have one stuffed with a beef kubideh (spiced ground beef) or a meaty chicken kabob. Side dishes to try include mast-o-musir, a thick yogurt laced with shallots and the excellent pale-orange hummus.

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Dates at Nora’s Wine Bar and Osteria

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Dates at Nora’s Wine Bar and Osteria

Serving Sicilian recipes and hundreds of wines, Nora’s transforms this fruit into a tasty creation. These dates are locally sourced from China Ranch, near the California-Nevada stateline, guaranteeing their freshness. The gourmet dates are filled with Parmesan-Reggiano, wrapped in apple-wood smoked bacon and cooked in a pizza oven. $9.50, 1031 S. Rampart Blvd., 940-6672.